The ordeal of seven siblings, including five minors, who lost both their parents during the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic and are now struggling to meet basic needs came to the notice of the Delhi High Court which on Monday observed that it would be unfair to expect children to procure documents for availing benefits of welfare schemes after losing their guardians. The high court said since the schemes have been framed by the Delhi government to grant benefits particularly to children who have lost their parents, the authorities have to adopt a proactive approach rather than dealing with such applications in a routine manner as experienced in normal times when one has to deal with bureaucracy.
It will be unfair to expect children who lost their parents to be able to procure certificates/documents to avail benefits which they are entitled to on loss of parents. They will find it cumbersome to run around, a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said, adding that when you don't get food, every hour, every day matters. The court was informed by advocate Prabhsahay Kaur, representing NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, that during the second wave of the pandemic, a family of seven siblings was orphaned with the death of their parents in the months of April and May.
Out of the seven siblings, five are minors while the eldest one is 23 years old, the youngest kid is four years old and needs to be admitted in a school, she said, adding six are girls and one is a boy. Explaining their ordeal, the counsel said though the children were duly provided with basic ration and school books by the child welfare committee, they are still in dire need of care and support and it is not practically possible for them to repeatedly approach the committee for their daily needs like milk, ration and medicines.
Kaur further said the siblings were given one-time assistance of Rs 10,000 and offered a small job which one of them had to accept to meet their basic needs as no relative is taking care of them and they are struggling for basis existence. She said various schemes were framed by the state government in June this year, but the implementation on ground has left much to be desired.
Senior advocate Rahul Mehra submitted that implementation of scheme for grant of ex-gratia is taking time as verification of documents is required to be done. He further said these children are now fed up coming to various agencies and added that it is not as if things are not happening, there are certain issues where plugging needs to be done.
He also said Rotary Club was helping and supporting this family. The court said, Rotary (club) has done a great job. At the end of the day, they (children) want their rights. It is your policy, why should it take so long? It should come from your side without our nudging. Then that will be called as progress.
The court said it is hopeful that the Delhi Chief Secretary after holding meetings with all the stakeholders, including principal secretaries of the concerned departments, will brush out such issues. It said the Delhi government should evolve procedures which are simple and easily implementable while ensuring that benefits are not misused by undeserving persons.
It asked the Chief Secretary to file a status report with the procedure evolved to deal with the welfare schemes under the Juvenile Justice Act and listed the matter for further hearing on September 9. The court issued notice to Delhi State Legal Service Authority (DSLSA) saying it was of the view that DSLSA will also play an active role in helping Delhi government to streamline the system and to help children in the process of obtaining and verification of their documents.
The court was also informed that there are 6,200 children who have lost one parent and 292 children who have lost both their parents and the figures are likely to change as and when new data is collected. The high court is dealing with several aspects relating to Covid-19 crisis in the national capital, including rehabilitation of children who have become orphan following death of one or both parents due to the virus.